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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

She knew what I knew

Mama Kat offered some great prompts for her writer's workshop this week but when I saw number 5, I knew without a doubt it was the one I had to write...

5.) That one time you met your online friend in real life (was it everything you thought it would be?)

For those of you who may just be stopping by my blog for the first time, I was a young widow.  At the end of 2003, my first husband was killed in an accident.  My boys were ages 4 and 5 months at the time.  My 4 year old witnessed the accident. 

I was devastated and often felt alienated because I felt that no one around me really understood what it was like, what I was going through. 

Although I knew it was wrong, I had a hard time being happy for other couples who were celebrating milestone anniversaries and well, just being happy. 

I couldn't participate in menial conversations, especially if someone was complaining about something her husband did or didn't do.  I was angry. A lot.  And I let God know it. 

Then I found, an online forum and support group, and I felt at home.  These women and some men too, knew what I knew.  It was like we all belonged to this secret club that none of us really wanted to join but there we were, all the same. 

The first one I met in person was Jenn.  She had lost her husband 6 months before I did when her son was 10 months old.  She lived about an hour away so we met for lunch one day. 

Just sitting across the table from her brought such a feeling of comfort to me.  I felt somehow at peace just to be in the presence of someone who really "got it". 

She knew what I knew and although we did talk about our grief, it didn't own us.  She didn't look at me with those sad eyes full of pity the way everyone else did.  It felt good to be me again. 

Then there was Kari.  She was a few states away, in Oklahoma, but when I first read her story I wanted to climb into the computer screen and hug her tight.  Her story was so close to mine, it gave me chills. 

She also had two boys.  Her oldest who was 2 at the time, also witnessed his dad's accident and she had an infant who was born after the accident. 

We spent hours typing to each other for weeks and months. Countless times I sat at my computer screen with tears streaming down my face as I read her words because I could have written them myself and sometimes did. We understood each other's pain so well because it was also our own. 

She knew what I knew. 

Michele came along almost one year after I was widowed.  She lived fairly close, about 35 minutes away, and I felt an immediate connection to her. 

She had just lost her husband in an accident a couple of weeks before Christmas and here I was coming up on the one year anniversary of losing mine. Her son was 2 at the time and her daughter, just a few weeks old.  I knew I had to reach out to her because I was learning to live with the same harsh reality she had just been dealt. 

I knew what she knew.

 I first met her in person, along with Jenn and 2 or 3 other young widows from the site when we all had lunch together in February of 2005. 

I continued to keep in touch with all three of them, mostly via email, and we all decided to plan a trip together where I would finally get to meet Kari face to face. 

So in June of 2005, Jenn, Michele and I hopped on a plane and headed south where we would meet up with Kari before boarding a cruise ship and setting sail for the Caribbean. 

I was so excited, yet a little nervous too, about finally meeting her face to face.  I had been pouring out my soul to her  for months, just as she had to me so how would it be when we finally met in person? 

Would the connection we had online be there in person or would it be awkward?  Would we feel like we had known each other forever or would we be like strangers? 

I felt silly for even having those thoughts once we met because of course we knew each other.  How could we not? 

We sat. We talked. We ate.  We laughed. We swam with dolphins. and stingrays. We cried.  We danced.  

We escaped the grief, the young widow title, the single parent title and the sheer exhaustion of it all. 

For five glorious days, the four of us escaped into a world where we were comforted by the knowing that the person to our right and the person to our left, knew what we knew. 

And sometimes that's the greatest gift God can give us. 

Kari, Me, Michele, Jenn


  1. I'm so very happy that you found such an amazing, supportive group of women. This was beautiful.

  2. I had chills as I read this post.

    It was exciting that some of these same ladies were there to celebrate your 2nd wedding with you.

    2 Corinthians 1:5 says, "For just a the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows"

  3. Oh wow. This is such an amazing post. I cannot even begin to imagine what you and your friends have gone through. What a great support you all have been to one another. xoxo

  4. What a blessing to find people like that who can relate. *Hugs*

  5. I will never forget the first time I met you Diane. I remember thinking that you and Jenn looked so familiar. It wasn't until a little later when the fog began to lift that I realized it was the eyes... I saw the same thing in your eyes that I saw every day looking back at me from the mirror. We have made so many wonderful memories over the years and I can't wait to make more for many years to come!!!

    Lots of Love, Michele

  6. Wow...I'm so moved right now. I'm so sorry for your loss.
    And I'm so happy for what you've gained. You are brave and inspiring.
    And you write beautifully!

  7. Beautiful post! The fellowship of others who "get us" is so sweet . . . and how lovely that God always knows what we need.

  8. Hugs! Finding friends you can relate to and "get you" makes all the difference in the world. I have met a couple of bloggy friends and it's like I've known them all my life. I think you get much closer with online relationships and my dearest friends are among them.

  9. That's great that you found people to connect with and to support.

  10. You are indeed fortunate to have found that site, and made such deep connections when you all needed them.

    I think we all need an escape from what troubles us, if only to recharge our own batteries for the challenges at hand.

  11. wow. amazing to have such a support system! thanks for sharing!

    thanks for stopping by my blog.

  12. Wow. What a beautiful story. It is so wonderful when you can find someone that empathizes with you.

    Empathy is a really powerful thing.

    Great post.

  13. I am so glad I read this post. Complaining does me and noone else any good. Thanks

  14. I loved this post on so many levels. It's inspiring that you were able to create such a support for yourself at such a terrible time. I love that you met your online friends and nothing changed...I have made a few really good friends through blogging who I hope to meet in person someday.

  15. hey, didn't know where to post this, but thanks for visiting over at my blog and following me! I was so excited to see you!

  16. My heart tugged and filled at this post. What a beautiful story of God turning grief into connections of warmth and love. Something only he can do.

    Beautiful all the way around!

  17. Wiping back a few tears. So sorry for your loss and happy for you that you found such amazing women.

    Hugs, mama. Thank you for sharing...

    Stopping by from Mama Kats.

  18. Wiping back a few tears. So sorry for your loss and happy for you that you found such amazing women.

    Hugs, mama. Thank you for sharing...

    Stopping by from Mama Kats.

  19. wow...incredible post. so glad you all found each other and had a support system. I can't imagine how difficult that 'journey' has been.

  20. Glad to know that you can be you again.. with those who really understand you. Wish u all the best luck :)

  21. This makes me tear up. I'm so amazed at how supportive online communities can be and while I struggled with my pregnancy losses some of my best friends were made. I love your post!

  22. I just happened to come over from Mamma Kat's post, and wow, what a story. I am doing NaNoWriMo and my story is actually about a young widow and her older neighbor and how they come together. I have had two friends become widows in their young married lives and it's just like you hard for others to understand.

    Wonderful post; you really put your soul in there.